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Question:
How do superconductors work and what are some current developments in the field of superconductivity?



Replies:
That is a question with a lot of very complicated answers. You should try looking up superconductors in the library. The most important recent development was the discovery of high-temperature superconductors, which can do it at much higher temperatures than was previously thought possible (still down around liquid nitrogen temperatures though - minus 200 degrees Celsius). The way they work basically is that the electrons pair up because of some attraction (in the low temperature case the distortion of the atomic lattice of the crystal, the source of attraction in the high temperature case is unknown) and these electron pairs are able to avoid the defects and other features of materials that normally lead to resistively. It is somewhat mysterious, I guess, involving some advanced concepts from statistical physics. I do not know of any good elementary explanation, but try the library...

Arthur Smith



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